India has made the decision to increase the number of its military personnel stationed in the Maldives, following discussions between Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Didi, and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. A senior Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) official informed the Maldives Journal that the decision was made by India and has now been agreed upon by the Maldivian government.
According to the MNDF official, the decision was not sudden and had been communicated in writing prior to the Defence Minister's visit. The decision is now official.
Currently, Indian military personnel are present in five different parts of the Maldives, with approximately 2,000 service members stationed across the island nation. Additionally, the Maldivian government has decided to allow Indian ships to patrol within Maldivian waters.
India is also in the process of developing a military base on the island of Uthuruthilafalhu, with Indian forces set to be stationed there until 2051, as per the agreement.
While the Maldivian government has agreed to increase the number of Indian soldiers in the country, the exact number of Indian military personnel currently in the Maldives remains classified. The matter has now been taken to the high court after the MNDF rejected an information request made by the Maldives Journal.
In the midst of these developments, there is a growing movement called "India Out" that calls for the removal of Indian soldiers from the Maldives. However, President Solih has issued a decree banning the movement, arguing that it threatens national security. This decision has been met with controversy, as the matter is now in court with opponents challenging the President's legal authority to issue such a decree. They argue that the ban violates the fundamental right to freedom of expression and undermines democratic principles in the Maldives.